Why Pregnant Shawn Johnson Needed To Open Up About Her Miscarriage Experience

In April, the The 27-year-old Olympic gymnast and her football player husband Andrew East revealed that they are expecting their first child again.

By Corinne Heller Aug 01, 2019 6:33 PMTags
Watch: Pregnant Shawn Johnson Talks Cravings & Picking Baby Names

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is in the third trimester of her pregnancy with her rainbow baby, but the road to get there was far from easy.

In April, the 27-year-old and her football player husband Andrew East, also 27, revealed that they are expecting their first child again, a year and a half after she suffered a miscarriage. They have been documenting their pregnancy journey on YouTube. They had also announced their miscarriage on that platform. At the time, Johnson said in a video, "We feel like a lot of people go through this so we wanted to share it."

"Before the miscarriage, we were very guarded on social media. We didn't share real personal stuff," Johnson told E! News exclusively. "When the miscarriage happened, I kind of felt broken as just a person and coming from gymnastics, where you kind of put on a brave face and you're just like, 'Everything's good,' I mean, that's also women in general—we say we're fine, and we move on. It was my idea to post it and my husband was like, 'No, I think we need to take a step back. It's a very vulnerable thing.' And I just had this impulse, and I pushed it out there, not knowing what the response would be, but it was almost like my cry for help." 

Over the past decade, more and more people have started to open up publicly on social media about sensitive health issues, including miscarriages. Johnson and East received scores of supportive messages from women who had gone through the same thing she did.

"I desperately wanted to hear other people's stories and how they handled it and how they healed and how they mended themselves from that experience," Johnson said. "And I would just sit in front of the computer for hours, reading comments and stories, and piece by piece, I kind of built this community that helped me get back on my feet. And from that, my husband got on board, and he's like, 'I think this, if done properly, in the right way, protecting our family, protecting you, we could share our experience since our community helped us so much, it's like a way for us to help them."

Her being pregnant again, she said, is "a terrifying experience" for the couple.

"Both of us, being athletes, we're used to people saying, 'Eat this, do that,' and you can fix it," she said. "With a baby, in a pregnancy, there's really nothing you can do except wait. So for us, it was really scary and we kind of just leaned on each other to pray out way through it."

"I hope I never offend anyone," she later said. "I never mean to offend anyone. We're very new to this and so we're just praying to be able to hold our baby some day and raise them for the rest of their life. But I hope they would take away that because of what we've gone through so far, just the crazy experiences, that like we're praying and hopeful for every pregnancy, for everyone trying to get pregnant, for every baby out there, in the most good-intentioned way." 

Amid her pregnancy journey, Johnson was made a brand spokesperson for baby bottle company Philips Avent.

The athlete is due to give birth in October. She said she and her husband do not know their baby's gender. They have, however, picked out names.

"We actually have our girl and our boy name completely locked in, which gives me a little bit of comfort because I feel like I'm prepared in one part of the pregnancy," she said. "We actually did agree with names, which was shocking."